Location: Berlin, Germany
Architect: Atelier Sunder-Plassmann
The design for the holiday house Hof Ahmen goes back to the seemingly simple and yet essential question: how to complement a unique, listed farm with surrounding grassland and integrate the new building into the “genius loci” of the farm, while at the same time developing an independent modern architectural language for the new building?
Hof Ahmen as an existing ensemble is characterized by a rectangular courtyard sur- rounded by permanent grassland, which is divided by the typical local rows of trees. In the middle of the rectangular plot stands the listed, thatched main house surrounded by lush, historically grown trees.
To the east of the main house, the detached roofs of the sheep barn are located, which were built in 1990 as an open wooden construction and correspond, in proportions and roof shape, to the typical local “Drempel barn.”
The new holiday house forms an extension of these freestanding roof structures: a fifth, floating roof is added, thus incorporating the “genius loci.” A floating platform, inserted under the roof, forms the main space of the house and creates a threshing floor.
This platform is completely glazed and the boundary between inside and outside becomes blurred, in a continuum between interior and exterior space. Analogies to the classics of modernism, the „Glass House“ by Phillip Johnson and the „Farnsworth House“ by Mies van der Rohe, emerge.
The inhabitant becomes an observer of nature and the environment turns into the main protagonist of the interior.
Slightly elevated with a kind of pedestal, the resident observes the surroundings: the constant interplay of cloud formations, the seasons, and the grazing of sheep determine the atmosphere and character of the house and make the surroundings become scenery: the complete beauty of nature opens up to the user.
The visitor enters through a terrace, in front of the house on the east, which serves as an outdoor area in summer and is an extension of the interior itself. From here,
through the large sliding door (2.4m x 3.4m), one enters the main room.
In its proportions (4 x 10m, 4.1m clear height) based on the barns of classic longhouses, the house seeks the dialogue between, on one hand, rural, typical local typologies and, on the other hand, classical modernism.
The main room is subtly divided into three areas by a wooden lamellas volume, without dividing the space in its entirety. The southern area, which gets sun all day long, is the dining area with its generous free-standing table.
The northern area, where the sun shines from 5 o‘clock in the evening, is the living area. In the central part, the furniture element integrates the wet area and visually separates it from the main room. On the other side, the kitchen floats as a free, mirrored volume.
Two wooden cubes, which accommodate the sleeping berths, are inserted into this fully glazed platform. These closed volumes form a retreat in contrast to the open main space and convey a sense of security.
The cubes can be opened to the main space through generous sliding doors, allowing flexible uses of the sleeping berths (daybed, couch) in conjunction with the main space.
The border between integration and segregation, between landscape and architecture, between rural and modern, between open and closed, and the careful balancing of these elements determine the design and let the house become a unique place together with the lush nature.